Photo: Save the Children

Taliban’s Restrictions Send Child Marriage and Maternal Mortality Through the Roofs 

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – UN Women says that if the Taliban’s restrictions on girls’ education remain in place, the rate of child marriage among Afghan girls will increase by 25%, early childbearing by 45%, and the risk of maternal mortality by 50%.

In its recent report, UN Women Afghanistan stated that the country has become the largest women’s rights crisis in the world, with Afghan women and girls continuing to have limited access to both international and national decision-making forums.

“Afghanistan remains the only country in the world that bans girls from going to school beyond grade six as a matter of policy.”

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, it has been widely reported that the fundamentalist regime has systematically sought to deny women and girls basic human rights, including their rights to education and work, effectively removing them from public life.

Many rights groups and defenders, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), have said that the Taliban have committed crimes against humanity of gender persecution, which fall within the jurisdiction of national and international courts including the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In recent years, the majority of the global community, including Islamic nations and organizations, has condemned the Taliban’s misogynistic policies, urging the regime to adhere to international laws and uphold the fundamental rights of women.

UN Women says that Afghan women are urging the international community to maintain its focus on the situation in Afghanistan and work towards restoring women’s rights, including their rights to education and employment, as well as their participation in public decision-making.

“The women’s rights crisis in Afghanistan cannot be seen in isolation,” the UN agency said. “Excluding Afghan women from decision-making forums not only deprives Afghanistan of any chance of emerging out of crises, but it also signals to all oppressors of women anywhere that attacking women and their rights, silencing their voices, and erasing them from society not only goes unpunished but also easily becomes normalized,” it warned.

The UN Women report highlights that Afghan women are also calling on the international community to consistently guarantee their representation on the global stage, stressing that the Taliban cannot be recognized as representatives of Afghan women.

The report comes as the UN prepares for the third high-level meeting on Afghanistan, with the participation of special envoys on Afghanistan. This two-day meeting is scheduled to take place at the end of June in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

Although the UN extended an advance invitation to the Taliban authorities to participate in the event, the regime has not yet confirmed their attendance. In a previous similar meeting, the Taliban refused to participate after their demands to be recognized as the sole official representatives of Afghanistan and to have an exclusive meeting with the UN Secretary-General were rejected.

It is not yet clear whether the UN has invited representatives of Afghan civil society and women to the upcoming meeting. In the previous meeting, four members of Afghan civil society, including three women, participated.

UN Women says that despite Taliban restrictions, Afghan women have not given up fighting for their right to live full lives, equal in dignity.

“Afghan women are still forming civil society organizations, still running businesses, and still providing services to their communities; most importantly, Afghan women have continued to find ways to make their demands to the international community clear.”

However, the Taliban has been accusing the UN and Western institutions of spreading “propaganda” against their administration, arguing that Islamic laws are being implemented in Afghanistan and framing any opposition as a challenge to Islam.